If you haven't read the book, or the whole series, why not join in and read along with the rest of us? This week the links to the other posts can be found at the bottom of this post.
This week we read through to the end of the book.
1. What do you think of the fact that Moiraine met Cadsuane. I don't think we knew that before. What's Cadsuane up to. Do you think Moiraine's eventual conclusion that she's Black Ajah is valid? Logical?
Any time spent with Cadsuane is always good fun, and I enjoyed this scene a great deal. I think that we had a slight hint about her and Moiraine at one point when she mentioned her in a list of things that she had failed to do or not seen as significant at the time. However, it was not clear that she had actually met Moiraine, or could have been much more proactive in the search for the infant Dragon.
I doubt that we will ever learn what Cadsuane was doing at this time, although it could simply be that she was in the Borderlands during the last months of the Aiel War to guard it against Shadowspawn incursions. However, we see here the weakness of Cadsuane’s total self-confidence and certainty of her own superior knowledge. She gives no thought to why Moiraine might be moving through the Borderlands and simply assumes that she is doing nothing of importance. If she had only considered the fact that the young Sister might be trying to accomplish something significant, she could have extracted the information from Moiraine and then helped in the search. I can understand why Cadsuane thinks that she knows everything, but this is a very good example of her making things worse by being too much of a bully. I am sure that her future self is now bitterly aware of this oversight and truly regrets it.
Given that Cadsuane is obviously not working under Tamra’s direction, but is one of the most powerful and competent Sisters for many generations, it makes some sense to think that she was not included in the search for a good reason. Given her paranoia, and her youthful assumption that she is the center of the universe, Moiraine leaps to the conclusion that Tamra could not trust Cadsuane, who must, therefore, be Black. Of course, the good reason was much more likely to be the fact that she was lost somewhere in the Borderlands when Tamra needed people close at hand that she could trust . . . or that she scared the snot out of the Amyrlin as much as everyone else! :D
2. Do you think Tamra was killed by a Darkfriend? Do you think the new amyrlin, Sierin, is Black Ajah? If so, why, and what do you think will happen next?
I think that it is very likely that the Blacks killed Tamra and her searchers. I would discount a ‘normal’ Darkfriend because of the similarity between her death and that of Meilyn. This suggests that the One Power was used to kill both these women and in a manner that would leave no evidence. It also makes a lot of sense for the Blacks to put Tamra to the question before killing her, and that again would leave evidence if done by a normal person.
I suspect that Sierin is not actually Black, even if she is a crazy man-hating ball of spite. Given the Aes Sedai tradition of manipulation and deception, it seems much more likely that the Blacks are highly placed individuals, as we see with Merean, and that Amyrlin is more of a puppet than she believes. We also know that she does not survive in place for very long, which adds more weight to my belief that she is not Black. It is likely that she became suspicious of one of the powerful Blacks, or learnt something incriminating, and they had to remove her.
3. We saw the scene with Lan, Moiraine, and the lake that was mentioned briefly clear back in book 2. What was your reaction to it? Did it play out the way you'd imagined?
I had completely forgotten the reference in The Great Hunt . . . but it is almost two years since we read it!
I thought this was hilarious, and did actually laugh out loud when she landed in the pond. I thought that the imagery was particularly well done, especially Lan’s apparent confusion that she had somehow disappeared from in front of him!
In the main series, we are constantly shown that Lan is as lethal as Moiraine, and that he has some pretty nifty talents that would make him almost super-human even without the Warder Bond. To have their initial confrontation show that he can both outwit and outmaneuver her was a delight, but also very necessary to show him as a worthy companion and true equal to Moiraine. It also made me wonder how much of his silence in later life was to cover up derisive thoughts and eye-rolling frustration over her stupidity and rashness.
4. Someone tried to assassinate Lan. He was an idiot who was told to kill Moiraine first, but didn't. Who do you think the attack was aimed at and who was responsible for it?
At the time, it seemed clear that it must be Edeyn who wanted Lan dead. However, now that we know that she intended to marry him to her daughter, that seems less than unlikely. The assassin says that he was paid to kill Moiraine, so I suspect that she is correct in thinking that he has something to do with the man Gorthanes who was so interested in her in Tar Valon. It makes sense that one of the opposing Houses would want to remove Moiraine as a potential heir to the Sun Throne, especially as she has the might of the White Tower behind her. This would also explain why the young man was told to shoot her first, and from a great distance, so that she would not have chance to defend herself with the One Power.
5. What did you think of the Lan-Edeyn relationship, and all of Edeyn's plans for Lan?
I hate to be picky, but I am a little disappointed by Lan’s apparent habit of jumping into bed with women that he does not really like. We saw the same thing with Myrelle after Moiraine’s death, which was even more unforgiveable because of his love for Nynaeve at the time. I know that men have their ‘urges’, but I thought that there were cold showers available for that kind of problem! :D
I was rather surprised that Lan not only bedded Edeyn, but that he did so after she told him of her plan for him to marry her daughter . . . eew! The Malkieri seem to have very rigid customs about the whole carneira thing, but I was seriously expecting him to send her off with a flea in her ear, not ‘reluctantly’ spend several days having rampant sexytimes. Sorry, Lan, but you disappointed me.
I suspect that Lan has not changed all that much since Edeyn first ‘cut his hair’, but she seems to believe that he has no say in how his life will unfold. Either she is blinded by her ambition, or is just plain stupid, because he is obviously not a man to be forced into something he does not want to do. Of course, once we meet his intended bride, I have to believe that he would stab her to death after only a few hours in her company, or run off into the waiting embrace of the Blight just to get away from her. I suppose we cannot blame her for how she has been trained by her mother, but I was surprised that Moiraine did not push her out of a window.
6. In the end, a Black sister is revealed, and several innocents die. The fight scene was pretty epic. Thoughts? Feelings? Regrets?
Is it bad that I was actually quite pleased about Iselle dying? She was an obnoxious twerp and I suppose that she did not deserve to actually die, but I could not feel a great deal of sorrow for her or even her grieving mother. I think that this probably makes me a bad and judgmental person . . . sorry about that! :D
If it is any consolation, I did feel bad for Diryk and Brys, both of whom seemed nice and most definitely did not deserve to die. Of course, all that talk about ‘luck’ and mysteriously survived falls had me shouting “ta’veren!” in my head, so I was very disappointed when Diryk was the first off the balcony and this time he did not survive. I thought the point about the ‘blacksmith’ was a little labored and would have been much more subtle if the man had not been a very clear amalgam of Mat and Perrin and if he had not been mentioned several times. It felt a little like being hit in the face with a sign saying “This Is A Very Important Clue!”.
I was also sorry to see the demise of Bukama. He reminded me an awful lot of Uno, so I was sorry to see him die. However, he is never mentioned in the main series and I somehow doubt that he would ever have retired to a certain comfortable inn in a nearby town. These should have been obvious clues that he would probably not survive to the end of the book, but I can be rather blind when predicting the deaths of characters I like. Wishful thinking can be powerful stuff!
7. What did you think of final scene that led to Moiraine bonding Lan? Did you like it? Want more? Think it was legit?
I thought that it played out in an understated way that was rather appropriate for both characters’ impassive personas. There was a grim practicality about it that seemed like a good way to end this chapter of the series.
Would I have liked more? Of course! I want the entire history of most things and people in this world laid out nice and neatly . . . or even not all that neatly as long as I get more detail. Unfortunately, I know that I will never have my wish fulfilled and, even if Mr Jordan were still alive, the poor guy could never provide enough detail to stop me wanting more.
I was so pleased to learn that the infamous mice were destined for Elaida’s bed . . . and so disappointed to discover that they never made it that far . . . boo! :(
Why would the Blues keep a secret of a weave that allows them to herd around insects? Maybe it is just me, but that does not sound like the world’s most exciting secret! :D
Goodbye Mr Jordan
Finally, I just want to comment on our transition to the “Final Volume”.
I know that Brandon Sanderson is no stranger to monster tomes of epic Fantasy, as I have copies of both The Way of Kings and Words of Radiance weighing down my coffee table. However, I am staggered that anyone could have expected this series to be finished in only one more title, even a real doorstopper. There are so many plot lines to resolve that I cannot believe that readers genuinely expected the series to end after book twelve. In fact, I imagine that even a summary of the upcoming volumes would still be a substantial work! However, I hope that we will see many characters reunited and plot lines tied off as we stagger towards the Last Battle and I doubt that Mr Sanderson will disappoint us.